Acadian Chamber presents eight entrepreneurial awards during Gala

ABRAM-VILLAGE – April 11, 2021 – The eight recipients of the most recent entrepreneurial awards from the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI had to wait more than a year to learn they were winners – due to delays caused by the pandemic. They finally found out April 11th, 2021, during the 2020 Entrepreneurs’ Gala but still displayed a positive « better late than never” attitude.

The atmosphere was festive among the 77 people gathered for the Gala, held at the Village musical acadien in Abram-Village. The formalities, some dictated by COVID-19, were in full evidence as the 16 finalists were recognized with certificates and the eight winning businesses or individuals were rewarded with a new style of trophy.

The award winners and their sponsors were:

• 2020 Business Hall of Fame Award: Jerry and Marcel Arsenault – Deva Forestry/The Branch Manager, Summerside and Abram-Village (Évangéline-Central Credit Union)
• 2020 Business of Excellence Award: Mermaid Marine Products (Patrick Villeneuve), Charlottetown (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)
• 2020 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award: Rafael Aguirre, EastCode Ecommerce Solutions and TopFeed, Charlottetown (LIENS Project)
• 2020 Social Economy Business Award: Association des centres de la petite enfance acadienne et francophone de l’ÎPÉ, Summerside (Mike Bradley Insurance Services – The Co-operators)
• 2020 Distinguished Employee Award: Louis Richard, Summerside Canadian Tire, Mont-Carmel (Innovation PEI)
• 2020 Young Enterprising Person of the Year Award: Maria Arsenault, Mont-Carmel (CBDC Central PEI)
• 2020 Special Recognition Award: Congrès mondial acadien 2019 (RDÉE Canada)
• 2020 Young Millionaires Award: Adèle Arsenault and Delphine Corney (Radio-Canada Acadie)

Other sponsors of the event were RDÉE Prince Edward Island, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), MRSB, HMS Office Solutions and ProMax 2000.


« At the Chamber of Commerce, we consider entrepreneurs to be true heroes! These are people who work day and night, by the sweat of their brow, to offer quality products and services to the community, to create jobs, to support the provincial economy and to feed their families, » said Christian Lacroix, president of RDÉE Prince Edward Island, which oversees the Chamber, in his opening remarks. « These are the same entrepreneurs who sponsor hockey and softball teams, figure skating shows, community festivals and, yes, even the Entrepreneurs’ Gala. You truly are the lifeblood of our communities. »

He added that it is therefore such a pleasure for the CCAFLIPE to host events like this gala to recognize and honor those who give their all to run businesses that give back so much to the community. « We would so much like to be able to present a trophy to each of our finalists since they are ALL equally deserving. »

And, noted Lacroix, as if this recognition gala wasn’t enough with its eight entrepreneurial awards, earlier in the weekend, the Chamber inducted 17 of its past award winners into its brand-new PEI Acadian and Francophone Business Hall of Fame. « What an honor and joy it is for us!  »

He concluded his comments by thanking and congratulating the finalists and winners. « Keep up the great work and continue to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs! » He then offered them a toast.



PHOTO 1: The CCAFLIPE presented eight awards during its 2020 Entrepreneurs’ Gala, held more than a year late, on April 11, 2021, in Abram-Village. Pictured seated, from left, Claudette Thériault, representing the 2019 Congrès mondial acadien (winner of the 2020 Special Recognition Award), Maria Arsenault (winner of the 2020 Young Enterprising Person of the Year Award), Delphine Corney (co-winner of the 2019 Young Millionaires Award with Ariane Arsenault) and Kathleen Couture, representing the Association des centres de la petite enfance acadienne et francophone de l’ÎPÉ (winner of the 2020 Social Economy Business Award). Standing, from left, are Louis Richard (winner of the 2020 Distinguished Employee Award), Rafael Aguirre (winner of the 2020 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award), Marcel and Jerry Arsenault (winners of the 2020 PEI Acadian and Francophone Business Hall of Fame Award) and Martin Marcoux, representing Patrick Villeneuve (winner of the 2020 Business of Excellence Award).

PHOTO 2: RDÉE PEI president Christian Lacroix offered a hearty word of congratulations to all finalists and winners of the Gala.

For more information, please contact
Raymond J. Arsenault
Activities Coordinator
Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI



2020 BUSINESS HALL OF FAME AWARD: Since 1987, brothers Jerry and Marcel Arsenault of The Branch Manager/Deva Forestry have been providing tree planting, pruning and cleaning/thinning services for clients of all kinds. The company operates year-round and typically employs four full-time and 12 part-time staff. Marcel is responsible for the planting side of the business. The company has planted approximately 20 million trees. Jerr is responsible for the pruning, cleaning and thinning side. For over 30 years, the duo has volunteered to perform the pole climbers comedy show during the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival. Patrick Villeneuve of Mermaid Marine Products in Charlottetown was the other finalist in this category.

In the photo: Alfred Arsenault, representing award sponsor Évangéline-Central Credit Union, presented the Business Hall of Fame trophies to Jerry and Marcel Arsenault.

2020 BUSINESS OF EXCELLENCE AWARD: Patrick Villeneuve of Charlottetown began working at Mermaid Marine Products, a wholesale marine equipment company, in 1983. In 1989, he became a partner with his father and in 2005, he became its sole owner. His building in Charlottetown’s West Royalty Industrial Park, which has been expanded twice, is 21,000 square feet. The company employs over 30 people and has customers throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Excellent customer service is the reason for its success. In 2016, Patrick also purchased Neptune Marine, a retail store, in the old port of Quebec. He recently sold Mermaid Marine. Other finalists in this category were Wellington Co-op and Royal Canadian Legion Wellington.

In the photo: Egmont MP Robert Morrissey presented the 2020 Business of Excellence Award to Mermaid Marine Products on behalf of award sponsor ACOA. Martin Marcoux accepted it on Patrick Villeneuve’s behalf.

2020 IMMIGRANT ENTREPRENEUR AWARD: Rafael Aguirre immigrated from Ecuador in 2008 to study business at UPEI. In 2016, he co-founded TopFeed, a technology company specializing in creating management and sales tools for the Island’s agricultural industry. TopFeed provides services to farmers, allowing them to sell their products online. Two years ago, this online farmers’ marketplace earned $25,000 from Innovation PEI’s Ignition Start-Up Fund. In 2017, Rafael founded EastCode Ecommerce Solution, a web application development service provider and one of the first blockchain companies in Atlantic Canada. The company serves several clients in Canada and the United States. The company provides work for three people. Aguirre was the only finalist in this category.

In the photo: Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry presented the 2020 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by the former LIENS project, to Rafael Aguirre.

2020 SOCIAL ECONOMY BUSINESS AWARD : The Association des centres de la petite enfance francophones de l’ÎPÉ was founded in 2015 to support the province’s six early childhood centers so they can provide services to children and families entitled to a French education in a quality environment that supports the child’s overall development. Among its accomplishments: increasing the salary scale for educators, recruiting a number of immigrant educators, providing scholarships to students to take the Early Childhood Educator course at Collège de l’Île, transferring the licenses of the early childhood centers to the association and sharing human resources. The Association has over 40 employees. Other finalists were the Wellington Co-op and the Royal Canadian Legion in Wellington.

In the photo: As sponsor of the 2020 Social Economy Business Award, Lisa Lamers, new representative of The Co-operators, presented the trophy to Kathleen Couture and Andréa Deveau from the ACPEFIPE.

2020 DISTINGUISHED EMPLOYEE AWARD: Louis Richard was hired in the automotive department at Canadian Tire in Summerside in 1977. For over 30 years, he was the manager of the department. What motivated him the most was customer service. Louis was a dedicated employee who provided exceptional service, without exception! He became the unofficial ambassador of the store, earning the nickname « Canadian Tire Louis ». Now that he has retired after more than 43 years of service, Louis will be able to devote more time to volunteering for organizations such as the Evangeline Minor Hockey Association, the Evangeline Recreation Centre, the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival and the Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel Parish. The other finalists were David Perry of the Wellington Co-op and Gisèle Gallant of the Évangéline-Central Credit Union.

In the photo: Egmont MP Robert Morrissey presented the 2020 Distinguished Employee Award to Louis Richard. The award was sponsored by Innovation PEI.

2020 YOUNG ENTERPRISING PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD: Smiling, pleasant, welcoming, respectful, enthusiastic, encouraging, jovial, genuine, positive and balanced are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Maria Arsenault of Mont-Carmel. Her essay in the « French for the Future » contest earned her a $10,000 scholarship to Université Sainte-Anne. But after much consideration and being accepted into the kinesiology course at the Université de Moncton, she chose to pursue her studies in Moncton. In addition to being an outstanding student, she is an actress, a stepdancer and an athlete. She was chosen as the female athlete of the year when she participated in the 2016 Legion Games. Maria also volunteers for various cultural, sports and religious organizations. The other finalist in this category was Samantha Lawther of Charlottetown.

In the photo: Interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant presented the 2020 Young Enterprising Person Award to Maria Arsenault, on behalf of sponsor CBDC Central PEI.

2020 SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: The 2019 Congrès Mondial acadien, under the able leadership of president Claudette Theriault, took place Aug. 10-24 in Prince Edward Island and southeastern New Brunswick. Over 150,000 Acadians and friends of Acadia from around the world participated in the festivities held here on the Island. The host municipalities on the Island were Tignish, Wellington, Abram-Village, Miscouche, Summerside, Rustico, Charlottetown and Souris. Each municipality organized dynamic and diverse community programming. 230 activities were held over a 15-day period. There were 36 family gatherings (five of which were on the Island), several wonderful large-scale shows, youth activities, historical conferences, an economic forum, a women’s summit and numerous cultural and artistic activities. One of the biggest events held on the Island was of course the official opening ceremony in Abram-Village, which attracted 5,200 people. Miscouche hosted a large commemorative activity of the 2nd National Acadian Convention of 1884. The event ended with a splendid sound and light show on the front of the church. The economic spin-offs were in the millions. The CMA hired 50 people and a number of contract workers. More than 200 volunteers were involved.

In the photo: Charles Duguay, Karen Gallant and Claudette Thériault accepted the 2020 Special Recognition Award, on behalf of the 2019 Congrès mondial acadien, from Martin Marcoux, president of RDÉE Canada, which sponsored the award.

2020 YOUNG MILLIONAIRES AWARD: Ariane Arsenault and Delphine Corney, 12, are the proud owners of « C’est notre planète », a company that produces reusable bags created from recycled T-shirts. The business was started through the Young Millionaires program in the summer of 2019 and went back into operation in 2020. The girls sourced old T-shirts from their parents, families, friends and school. Ariane and Delphine also developed patches with their logo. In their first summer, they sold approximately 100 bags and 20 patches, including at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, at CMA 2019 events and via their Facebook page. Their first year, sales were $450, and their profits were $320.

In the photo: Denis Duchesne, representing Radio-Canada Acadie, presented the 2019 Young Millionaires Award to Delphine Corney, who also accepted the award for her business partner Ariane Arsenault from the company “C’est notre planète”.